I figure we were eight years old. It was the summer and my best friend and I were playing at her house. It was snack time and she picked a plum from a fruit bowl on the kitchen counter. She asked me if I wanted a plum too. As she inspected the plums and picked the one she liked, I distinctly remember wondering why she would choose to eat a plum, rather than the Oreos that were in the cupboard. (Her mom bought Oreos, mine did not.)
Looking back, I suppose that mind-set has never really changed in 30 years. Given a choice, I’ll eat Oreos over a plum (baked goods rather than fruit) any day of the week.
I’ve struggled with picking healthy foods for years. Sure, I eat the stuff, but I would rather be eating the mind-satisfying fatty and/or sugary foods. So, when my therapist and I discussed goal setting, increasing my fruit consumption was one of the first items to tackle.
Like any seasoned dieter, I set the bar high and initially set my goal to eat a piece of fruit after each meal. My therapist pointed out that it might be better to start small, such as committing to eating a piece of fruit once a day and build from there. After all, if I start to feel like I’m on a diet, I also start to overeat. (Of course, this is a minimum - I can eat more fruit if I want to.)
We set parameters for what qualifies as a fruit: whole pieces of fruit, my husband’s berry crumble, and fruit with milk. Of course, the majority of time, I ate a piece of fruit, but if hubby happened to make a crumble, I counted it as a fruit. So I started eating a piece of fruit a day; if I didn’t make my goal for some reason, I started again the next day. (Feeling badly for not eating that piece of fruit would increase my anxiety and trigger overeating.)
After two months of eating a minimum of one piece of fruit a day, I increased my goal to include eating a fruit for dessert at dinnertime three times a week. (Note: we don’t have dessert after dinner – but I wanted to get in the habit of eating fruit after dinner or any meal for that matter). This actually worked very well; eating fruit with Daddy on the couch watching the Backyardigans is now a part of my older son’s bedtime routine and I’m happier to choose an apple or plum over a processed dessert now.
When I headed back to work in May after my maternity leave, again, I made a goal to increase my fruit consumption. My new goal is to eat all the fruit I bring to work by the time I get home. (Previously, I brought only one piece of fruit to work and it was not unusual for said piece of fruit to be shuttled to and from work for a week.)
I’m pleased to report that I've achieved this goal; a peach on the train to the office, an apple in the afternoon and another apple on the train home. When I’m hungry I usually reach for a piece of fruit first.
Yesterday, I met a friend for lunch. I brought my salad, bun and fruit with me. She looked at the peach I was eating and noted that it didn’t look very tasty. Having eaten a whole bunch of not-so tasty fruit lately, I told her that I’ve had better, but this peach is actually not too bad.
That’s progress, I’m eating more fruit, and I’m no longer overeating on junk food if my peach happens to taste like cardboard.